Revamp Saratoga’s desolate downtown

In My Opinion



Shreyas Iyer, Editor-in-chief

As I depart for college in Washington D.C., I’ll surely miss many things about my hometown of Saratoga; the people, the weather, the food—but not, however, the downtown. In my mind, the town of Saratoga has always retained the ambience of a quiet, quaint town—a place preferred for its high-end dining over anything else. There is little to do recreationally, and the lack of big name brands removes much of the glamour and attention that Saratoga could receive. At times, this environment has been great for a solitary person like myself, but for others, the lack of a true social scene has dampened the town’s aura. Interestingly enough, although Saratoga High School is just one block away, the downtown area has struggled to attract customers ever since I have been old enough to remember the glistening Christmas lights and aromatic cafes that dot the town streets.

What makes ‘Toga’s downtown different from other more bustling districts like those in Los Gatos, Mountain View and even Cupertino’s recently-opened Main Street? It starts with size. Unlike its counterparts, downtown Saratoga stretches for just four and a half blocks, almost seven times less than downtown Los Gatos does. Furthermore, many Saratoga residents prefer the picturesque and old-fashioned appearance of the town and shun any big-business interference; for example, one of the few large corporations to have established a location in Saratoga, Starbucks, is located at the periphery of the downtown. While Los Gatos has Apple, Gap and White House Black Market, Saratoga lacks an equivalent set of trendy boutiques, making Los Gatos more appealing to newer residents, millennials and students. Additionally, the majority of the eateries in Saratoga are geared toward the upper-middle class and above; there is little variety in terms of cost, leaving local students for the most part with larger restaurant bills.

In order for Saratoga to help its resident small business owners, investing in larger businesses in its downtown would be a great bet to boost the stagnant commercial district. Possibilities for expansion include adding chic fashion brands such as Gap or Banana Republic, along with luxury brands such as Tory Burch or Michael Kors; these additions would bring both a contemporary flair and a sense of grandeur to mend the current banality of downtown Saratoga. Big name outlets will attract local residents to the downtown, and Saratoga can then offer them its more famed local eateries and restaurants, including staples such as The Basin restaurant, Plumed Horse and la Mére Michelle. Thus, the town won’t have to compromise its local, older places in favor of newer, faceless brand names—after all, turning Saratoga into a modern commercial metropolis would remove the charm of the town, ruining its appeal.

If Saratoga does not take action in sprucing up its downtown, it will continue to lose attention from newer generations of Saratogans who will instead choose other local bustling downtowns to find entertainment and cost-efficient food. As such, renovations are imperative if Saratoga ever hopes to help its struggling businesses to sustain themselves; by adding a few select big brands and modernizing an otherwise lacking area, Saratoga will find itself in a sweet spot, boasting just enough charm and fashion to keep both the old and the new satisfied.